Illustrations by Louisa Bertman

"Tell me about your first time..."

Three big firsts leap to mind when you ask a queer person about their "first time." The first time they realized they were queer (that stranger's ring of keys), the first person they told (that stranger in a chat room), the first time they had sex (that stranger from a hookup app).

But while the big three firsts get all the attention, the firsts keep on coming. There are more firsts in queer life than just "realize," "announce," and "bonk."

In fairness to straight people—#StraightLivesMatter—they have their fair share of firsts, too. First crush, first kiss, first fuck. But queer firsts are, well, they're queered by our queerness. Our firsts are experienced more intensely; they're riskier (what if mom and dad throw me out?) and sometimes much more consequential (mom and dad threw me out). Queerness can bend and invert our firsts, and homophobia and transphobia can bugger them up. For this year's Queer Issue (our 23rd!), we asked a diverse group of queer writers to write about a first time—a realization or an epiphany or an experience—that was bound up with their queerness but wasn't one of the big three queer firsts. There are a lot of coming-to-the-realization/coming-out-to-the-family/coming-all-over-yourself stories out there. We wanted to supplement stories of those "firsts" with stories about other less heralded and less explored firsts.

We've got Chase Burns on his first cross-country Instagram date. Alexander Chee on the first—and last—time he dated someone who fetishized him for his race. Wancy Young Cho on his first time living in a gay neighborhood. Shawna Murphy on raising a queer kid for the first time and in the right time and place. Marga Gomez on her first time with a dominatrix (it didn't end quite how you would have imagined). Sarah Galvin writes about her first proposal and counter-proposal, which included poppers and was queer as fuck. Matt Baume writes about the first time he experienced gaydar, and Dave Wheeler the first time he went to a gay bar sober. Other firsts—singing karaoke, masturbating, and breastfeeding—are taken for granted by cisgender queers, but are transformed into revelatory experiences when you are trans, as Katherine Cross, Buck Angel, and Dana Fried are.

We hope reading these stories reminds our queer readers of the firsts in their lives—and helps them look forward to firsts yet to come—firsts (and thirsts) that deserve to be shared along with the big three.